The officer never explained the arrest to him

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (AP) – The officer who pulled Tire Nichols from his car before police beat him to death never explained why he was stopped, newly released documents show and emerging reports from Memphis residents suggest he was common.

The Memphis Police Department slammed Demetrius Haley and four other officers as “blatantly unprofessional” and demanded that they be stripped of their ability to work as police over their roles in the Jan. 7 beating, according to documents released Tuesday by the Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission.

They also include revelations that Haley took photographs of Nichols as he lay leaning against a squad car, then sent the photos to other officers and an acquaintance.

Nichols died three days later — the latest police killing to cause nationwide protests and an intense public conversation about how police treat black residents.

Yet what led to all of this remains a mystery.

The five officers – Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Tadarrius Bean, Justin Smith and Emmitt Martin III – were fired and charged with second-degree murder. The new documents offer the most detailed account to date of those officers’ actions. Their lawyers have not commented to the Associated Press on the documents.

Another officer was also fired and a seventh suspended from duty. Six more will be fined, officials said, without providing any details. This would bring the total involved to 13.

Erica Williams, a spokeswoman for the top Memphis prosecutor, said more charges could be filed.

Meanwhile, other residents are coming forward regarding interactions with the Memphis police.

A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday accuses the same officers now charged with the murder of Nichols, 29, of also violating the rights of another man from the same neighborhood as Nichols during an equally violent arrest three days before Nichols’ arrest.

According to the lawsuit, Monterrious Harris, 22, was visiting a cousin in an apartment on the evening of Jan. 4 when his car was “suddenly invaded by a large group of assailants wearing black balaclavas, dressed in black suits, brandishing handguns, other weapons, hurling curses and threatening to end his life if he didn’t get out of the car”.

Harris thought the men were trying to rob him, the lawsuit says, and tried to back the car before hitting something. He then reluctantly walked out with his hands up and was “grabbed, punched, kicked and attacked” for up to two minutes, the complaint said. The beating only stopped after people left their apartments to see what was going on, the lawsuit claims.

Photos of Harris’s face taken after his release on bail about nine days later show thick scabs on his forehead and a healing black eye.

The lawsuit accuses officers of fabricating evidence to support charges against Harris, including being a convicted felon in possession of a gun, felony trespassing and evading arrest.

Additionally, a woman told WREG-TV she tried to warn the Memphis Police Department about Haley after a Feb. 21, 2021 encounter. Kadejah Townes said she was returning a film to a Redbox machine at a Walgreens when police he answered a fake shooting call. Police initially told her she could leave, she said, but then officers stopped her when she reversed. Haley handcuffed Townes so roughly that she feared her arm was dislocated, she said.

His aunt recorded the meeting. Then police stopped her aunt and brother as they followed a police car as it took Townes to hospital. Townes said she has never been charged with anything.

Haley’s disciplinary file showed that after Townes filed a complaint, he was written up for failing to fill out the proper paperwork, not use of force.

“I wasn’t surprised,” Townes told the TV station.

Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis has signed requests to ban the five accused officers from working in law enforcement again. The Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission will decide later whether to do so.

Haley, who was driving an unmarked car and wearing a black hoodie, forced Nichols out of his car using profanity, then sprayed a chemical irritant in his eyes, according to documents released Tuesday.

“You never told the driver the purpose of the vehicle’s arrest or that he was under arrest,” the documents said.

Haley didn’t have her body camera on when she stopped Nichols, but she was on the phone with someone who overheard.

Nichols escaped from the officers but was caught again a few blocks away. At that point, Haley kicked him in the torso while three other officers were handcuffing him. Other officers kicked Nichols in the face, punched him, or hit him with a nightstick.

Allegations against the other officers include that they misled officials about what happened.

Martin, for example, alleged that Nichols tried to snatch the officer’s pistol from its holster after another officer forced him out of the vehicle, with Martin assisting him by grabbing Nichols’ wrist. However, the video does not confirm the gun theft charge, the documents said.

In a letter from Smith included in his file, he defended his conduct, stating that Nichols was “violent and would not comply.”

Audio from a body camera did not catch Nichols using profanity or making violent threats, instead, he appeared calm and polite in his comments to officers.

The documents also highlight the failure to provide aid afterwards, with Bean’s indifference to Nichols’ distress reported by a civilian who recorded video that has not been released.

All five were also charged for violating rules about body cameras, either by not wearing them at all times or by taking off their vests with cameras attached, the documents said.


Associated Press reporters Kimberlee Kruesi in Nashville, Gene Johnson in Seattle, and Heather Hollingsworth in Mission, Kan., contributed. Mattise and Loller reported from Nashville.


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